Your home is more than a roof over your head or a place you return to when the outside world feels too chaotic. It’s where you build a life with your family and an environment that significantly influences your health and well-being more than you may realize. A healthy home environment is not only supposed to be hazard-free and aesthetically pleasing, but it should also promote physical, mental, and emotional wellness. You’ll be more creative, productive, and happier when your indoor house environment is healthy.
Conversely, an unhealthy home can trigger various health issues, ranging from mild allergies and headaches to severe respiratory and immune system problems. And if you think occasional dusting and vacuuming is enough to keep these health hazards at bay, you might need to think again because there’s more to a healthy home environment than what meets the eye.
So, if you’re concerned and wondering if your home is an unhealthy place to live, here are six signs that indicate you’re exposed to health risks lurking in your home:
Asbestos Exposure at Home
Asbestos is a highly toxic substance that releases microscopic fibers into the air. These fibers can cause serious health issues if inhaled, ranging from shortness of breath to severe life-threatening diseases such as lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis.
This hazardous material was used in various house construction materials such as roof shingles, insulation, and floor tiles before the 1980s. Shockingly, many manufacturers of asbestos-containing products still exist today.
If you or any family member is diagnosed with health issues related to asbestos, you may be eligible for compensation. Hire an experienced attorney to understand your legal rights and obtain asbestos settlements to help cover medical costs and other expenses.
Poor Indoor Air Quality
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indoor air can be five times more polluted than outdoor air. And if you live in an area with poor outdoor air quality, your home’s indoor air can be even more hazardous. You might sneeze or cough more often, suffer from skin irritation, or experience headaches due to chemical sensitivities.
A healthy indoor air quality index should be between 0 and 50, with anything above 100 considered unhealthy. To improve healthy indoor air quality, you need to ensure proper ventilation in your home. Additionally, cleaning and dusting carpets, furniture, and draperies is necessary to keep the air clean. Use HEPA air filters or purifiers to eliminate particles, and avoid smoking indoors.
Are your walls covered in black spots? Or a musty odor is lingering in the air? You might have mold growing in your home. Mold thrives in high humidity and moist areas, such as basements or bathrooms. It can result in respiratory issues, coughing, itching eyes, and skin or throat irritation. However, prolonged mold exposure can lead to more severe health complications.
To prevent mold growth in your home:
- Maintain an indoor humidity level (around 30% and 50%).
- Install exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens to reduce steam accumulation.
- Replace carpets or rugs with hardwood or tile floors, and immediately address all leaks.
- Inspect your home for any water damage that could lead to mold infestation, and maintain a healthy home.
Although it’s hard to imagine a house without a few creepy crawlies, an infestation of pests can quickly lead to health issues. Cockroaches, fleas, and rodents are common household pests carrying diseases that can be transmitted to humans. Additionally, certain insect bites or stings can cause an allergic reaction in some people. Pest droppings and urine can also leave harmful pathogens in your house.
How to keep your home pest-free?
- Clean up crumbs and food that may attract them.
- Seal all cracks or small openings in your home that pests might use to enter the premises.
- Store food in containers with airtight lids.
- Keep your house and yard well-maintained.
- If you have pets, clean up their droppings and urine promptly.
- Ensure efficient garbage disposal and removal.
Natural pest control solutions can also help deter these creatures from entering your home.
Radon is a colorless, odorless, yet harmful gas emitted from the decomposition of uranium in soil and rocks. The worst part is that it is present in almost all homes, but only a few homeowners know about its presence and the health hazards it brings.
Therefore, it’s crucial to test whether or not your home is safe from radon. If the results show radon toxicity, take measures to reduce the levels. You can install a mitigation system to help reduce the radon gas levels in your house.
Also, ensure your home is well-ventilated and seal cracks or holes in the walls. Regular periodic tests can also help detect radon levels in the future.
Despite its ban in 1978, homes built before this time may still harbor this hazardous material, posing a significant health risk to occupants.
Lead-contaminated paint, when deteriorating or disturbed during renovations, produces lead dust. When inhaled or ingested by children, it can lead to lead poisoning. Symptoms include developmental delay, learning difficulties, weight loss, irritability, fatigue, abdominal pain, vomiting, constipation, and hearing loss.
It’s not safe to reside in a house with lead-based paint, and you must take steps to remove it. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) offers two grant programs to help owners identify and remove this hazardous material from their homes.
Would you ever consider your house a potential source of health hazards? Probably not. But the sad reality is it takes surprisingly little for a home to become unhealthy. A single leak can lead to mold growth, an undetected radon source can silently poison the air, and remnants of lead-based paint can pose a severe health hazard. Asbestos, pest infestations, and poor ventilation can also cause health problems. As such, it’s your utmost responsibility to ensure your home is safe, and you can do so by performing inspections, maintenance, and repairs.
Remember that a safe, comfortable living environment is not something to take for granted; it takes an ongoing effort to stay on top of the health of your home.